Friday, September 10, 2010

Like a Pufferfish Bouncyball

Horses - 363
Ben Azevedo

The ship itself was a gleaming shard of metal in the hangar. Odd fins and wings stuck out all across the hull, giving the overall impression of a rather unbalanced puffer fish. There were no visible windows, exhaust, or breaks in the metal exterior, but as Miles approached, a door in the side slid open with a hiss.

Jonesy gave one last sigh and darted into the dark portal. Miles shrugged and followed suit. Inside, Jonesy was strapping himself into a heavily padded seat facing a large bank of displays. He gestured to a second seat.

“How does this thing fly anyway?” Miles asked.

“Well, the basic principle is…it doesn’t.” Miles shrugged.

“That’s reassuring. So how does it work?”

“The fins on the outside are completely mobile. The onboard computer uses them to sort of…steer. I modified them to absorb the electrical currents within the storms, and increase efficiency while reducing danger. The ship senses directional currents in the wind and manipulates the fins to increase the likelihood that we reach our destination.”

“Wait, ‘increase the likelihood?!’”

“Yeah well, nothing is certain in these conditions. A simple jet engine would waste too much fuel fighting the wind currents, so we have to use them. They’re obviously uncontrollable, so we basically float around like a seed on the wind until we get there.”

“A seed. On the wind. A seed…” Miles just stared at Jonesy.

“Well, more like a bouncy ball with a rocket strapped to it, but yeah.” Jonesy smiled at the look on Miles’ face. He continued, “That’s why you’re strapped in so tight, and why the inside of this ship is padded. The Geo Grounding system will keep us from crashing into anything, and will do its best to keep the ship oriented properly. I went ahead and overrode priority to destination though, since you’re in a hurry.”

“So…we may be upside down?” Miles’ face was pale.

“Almost certainly.” Jonesy was nearly giggling with glee.

“I’m moving back to the Plains after this,” groaned Miles, “at least they just ride damn horses there. I’d take a smelly old horse over this any day.”

Jonesy flipped a switch and started the ship.

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